Should Babies Learn Alexa’s Name Before Mama’s?

Check out a fascinating article, When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa’ Before Mama, in the November 27, 2017 Washington Post. Tech reporter Hayley Tsukayama describes how a young child responds to the Alexa voice assistant in his house, calling out her name before learning his mom’s. She also writes about the personal voice assistant universe and expert opinions.

51ciPnzyhQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_I am not sure what to think and, yes, it is amusing.

Yet I keep wondering whether digital toys and devices, especially those that talk, tend to distract babies and toddlers as they go about learning words and begin to carry on a basic conversation. Babies are hard-wired to learn the language that their parents speak — the words, the pitch, the intonation — and it seems like inserting digital conversations into the equation could slow down the process, or at least not be helpful. Twenty-first Century life is becoming more complex for every age as we sail nonstop into an increasingly digital world.

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Constructing Modern Knowledge: Sometimes Out of My Comfort Zone

CMK 2014

Click to visit the CMK14 site.

Occasionally we educators (and parents, too) participate in a learning experience that requires us to struggle for understanding and work hard to figure out what’s happening. Young learners go through this situation day after day in their school lives, even in the most wonderful classrooms. Adults not so much.

I’m in the middle of a challenging learning experience right now. This week the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute (CMK14) requires me to stretch. I’m expected to learn new things, figure out problems, and use all sorts of materials to invent, explore, and, yes, construct new ideas and information. Sometimes the work is heavy with digital materials and sometimes we use resources that have little to do with technology. It’s all about ideas and self-directed learning. No one tells me what to do or what to choose, but plenty of people are around to help me once I’m engaged with a task.                           Continue reading

AIMS 2014 Retreat Report #1: Grant Lichtman Presentation

Lichtman graphic

A photo of Lichtman’s title screen. Click to visit his blog.

The 2014 AIMS Technology Retreat is off to a terrific start with Grant Lichtman’s presentation about the challenges inherent in educational innovation and transformation. I’m attending this retreat with 150 tech leaders, librarians, administrators, and teachers representing more than 60 independent schools in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area.

Many of us think a good deal about how our schools might change and innovate. We consider how best to help our students make good use of their 21st Century access to vast amounts of knowledge. Most of us take seriously a new mission that requires us to enable students as they mold themselves into collaborators, dynamic learners, good problem solvers, and experiential learners. We also know that it’s critical to help them become confident enough to learn in a world that continuously changes (and at great speed).

This conversation is actually about becoming better progressive educators.

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The Annual Beloit College Mindset List Is Out!

Check out the Mindset Lists of American History.

Check out the Mindset book!

Want to learn a bit about the students who are entering college right now and infer a bit about digital kids at other ages? Check out this year’s Beloit College Mindset list for the class of 2017.

Started in 1998 by two faculty members at Beloit, the list was originally created as a way for faculty and staff at the college to learn more about how easy it is for adults talk about things that they take for granted but that their students don’t know.  The website includes past years’ lists.

As parents and teachers we gain far more credibility with digital-age children when we understand that many of the things we refer to are not a part of their mindset, and when we make an effort to understand the context of their young lives.

A Few of My Favorite Items from This Year’s Mindset List

(But there are 60 items out students on the list.) Continue reading